Matt Guerrier took the loss last night. Again.
You gotta feel bad for him. I think it’s fair to say that he’s currently residing in his own little personal circle of hell. I’m going to go with the fifth circle – Wrath and Sullenness – because I’d be pretty sullen/wrathful if I had been tagged for the loss in the last three games in which I appeared. That also seems kinder than the ninth circle: Betrayal.
But I don’t doubt that a fair amount of fans feel betrayed. In the last week, Guerrier has made three appearances, pitched a total of two innings, and given up the winning run in each of those three games. That’s about as bad a week as one would care to have as a relief pitcher.
But Twins fans who remember 2008 don’t want to hear about a bad week. They don’t want to hear about, well, anything, because they have spend a good deal of time trying to forget about 2008. Particularly about the 8.88 ERA that Guerrier posted that year after the All-star break.
But remember we do, and it appears manager Ron Gardenhire remembers too. After pitching predominantly the 8th inning for most of the season, Guerrier didn’t come in during the 8th last night. He came in during the 7th. That’s different.
Also different: unlike the previous game (in which he gave up four earned runs) Guerrier also had a much shorter leash. He pitched to three batters, one of which walked and two of which hit the baseball very hard. He still managed to be on the mound when both the tying run and the winning run came across the plate. And he wasn’t around when the inning ended.
What Gardenhire and Twins fans are witnessing is a meltdown, pure and simple. In those three games and two innings, he has given up six hits. Three walks. Six earned runs. He doesn’t have a single strikeout even though he’s faced 14 batters. His ERA has ballooned from 1.72 to 3.03.
The last time this happened, back in 2008, the Twins swore it was because Guerrier had been overused. That year, problems began on July 8th, when Guerrier pitched for the fourth time in five games. This year, it began on July 1st, when Guerrier pitched the fourth time in five games.
This time, the Twins seem to have already tried what has often worked in the past – given Guerrier a break. After a pair of disastrous outings against Tampa Bay, Guerrier got three days of rest. It didn’t work.
The natural conclusion is that Guerrier again has a tired arm, or has hit some sort of wall, but I can’t find any evidence of it in today’s pitches. His fastball was consistently 91 or 92, and according to pitch tracking it wasn’t drifting over the middle of the plate. But it caught enough to let Vernon Wells knock the snot out of it. We don’t know if that was primarily because Guerrier is struggling, or because Wells is very good at hitting a baseball.
What is clear is that the Twins can’t, and seemingly don’t, trust Guerrier too much right now. He’s about to get a pretty long rest in the way of the All-Star break. And there are a litany of right-handers in Rochester who might be able to contribute to this season’s division race, if only they could find their way onto the roster. If the Twins and Guerrier really want to overcome this little trend, I wonder if the two sides shouldn’t agree to extend that All-Star break with a short trip to the DL for a “tired arm.” Is that legitimate? Is that really the problem?
I’m not sure, but god knows we’re tired of it.
Lotsa stuff to talk about this morning. First, I had a great time at the TwinsCentric event last night at Park Tavern, despite the loss and only being there for about 1/3 of the game. Thanks to everyone who came out. It was very good to touch base again.
Second, we are now just three days away from being able to by the TwinsCentric 2010 Trade Deadline Primer. It's an ebook only which we were showing on the iPad yesterday, and people really seemed to like it. It is basically a 175-page reference that you can use throughout the next three weeks to really launch yourself into the trade season.
Want to know whether the Reds really would pursue Cliff Lee? It's in there, under the team summaries. Or a list of third basemen the Twins could pursue? Also there, in the list of 150 trade targets. Or what prospects The White Sox have which might impact the second half race? We also have 100+ prospects. There is also an essay about the Twins payroll for 2011 which you need to read. I think that harsh reality is driving a lot of the urgency this year, and I can't believe people aren't talking about more.
I hope you'll take a moment, take a risk, and check it out. You'll be able to start ordering it Sunday night at TwinsCentric.com.